This past year saw a number of highlights at San Antonio’s unique collaborative co-working space, also known as “Geekdom.” Now located on the sixth and seventh floors of the historic Rand Building on East Houston Street, Geekdom has plans to occupy the entire eight-floor building to better serve “innovators, entrepreneurs and geeks of every kind,” according to Lorenzo Gomez III, Geekdom’s director.
The move from previous headquarters in the Weston Centre came after Weston Urban LLC namesake and owner Graham Weston, who founded Geekdom and co-founded Rackspace, purchased the Rand from Frost Bank in April 2013.
One year later, with Frost Bank employees still occupying the first through fifth floors, the seventh floor was completed for Geekdom members and startups. By November, Geekdom's sixth floor tenants, including the Rivard Report, settled into their new offices. Next on the horizon is the opening of an events center sometime in January. Frost Bank employees will vacate the building in the spring.
(Read More: No Corner Offices at The New Geekdom)
Sammis and Ochoa Co-owner Tanya Sammis, a Geekdom neighbor on the sixth floor, shared with us highlights from a year packed with events and progress:
In January, Geekdom gifted the Geekbus, its 37-foot mobile education unit, to SASTEMIC (San Antonio Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Connectory), a local non-profit organization. Additionally, the 80/20 Foundation has given a matching grant to SASTEMIC to support the organization in its efforts to provide the resources of education that the Geekbus has to offer.
Codeup Kicks Off
Codeup, the professional school for computer programming, launched its company and first bootcamp in February. Throughout the year, the Geekdom company member has offered innovative learning programs catering to niche groups, including Codeup Vets and Codeup Teens.
Codeup teaches coding, programming and web development in a concentrated tech bootcamp environment to specifically prepare students for careers in these areas. By the year's end, Codeup has surpassed $2.1 million of total tech salaries created. It has graduated four classes of students and is in the midst of its fifth.
(Read More: Codeup Grads Released Into General Population)
Code for America
Also in February, District 7 Councilmember Cris Medina, then-District 1 Councilmember Diego Bernal, District 6 Councilmember Ray Lopez and the City's Chief Technology Officer Hugh Miller welcomed an exciting team of innovative fellows from Code for America to San Antonio. The fellows were embedded in San Antonio for four weeks while they worked with city staff and the community to identify needs, leading to the development of web apps and tools that will bring greater openness, efficiency and participation to local government. At the end of the 11-month Fellowship, the city was left with sustainable apps that meet various informational needs in the community.
In April, Promoter.io, a tech start-up founded in 2013 in the walls of Geekdom, announced the official launch of its Net Promoter System (NPS). Promoter.io helps companies gather actionable customer insights and build strong brand advocates using the Net Promoter System. These customer champions, or Promoters, drive referral growth and recommendations to spur profitable growth. The start-up gives companies a way to measure that enthusiasm, trend it over time and use the feedback to fine-tune their approach.
Also in April, Geekdom company member Koedal announced the launch of mobile spelling app, Spelling Pro. The app Spelling Pro mimics standard practice and test environments, providing automatic grading and a system designed to take the struggle out of learning even difficult words. The application was created in partnership with Koedal developers and Mia Moe, daughter of Judi Paul, creator of Accelerated Reader. Spelling Pro was developed out of a need for a spelling application that provided resources for visual and audio spelling lessons, as well as accountability and tracking for both students and their parents.
3 Day Startup on Green Technology Businesses
At the of April, 40 entrepreneurs participated in a 3 Day Startup (“3DS”) weekend focused on startups in the green technology world, businesses whose models focused on products and services based on sustainability, renewable energy, and resource conservation.
Geek Pride Day
In May, Geekdom hosted Geek Pride Day with a special Festivus and ceremonial “hail to the geeks.” In observance of the international holiday, Geekdom declared the last week of May as Geek Week in San Antonio.
3 Day Startup on Cybersecurity Businesses
Also in May, Geekdom played host to a 3 Day Startup (“3DS”) conference on cybersecurity businesses at its old space at the Weston Centre. True to the 3Day model, cyber entrepreneurs honed their business models and pitches, while industry insiders mentored and molded their concepts toward more scalable futures.
In June, WP Engine made its professional home in the walls of Geekdom. The company, which is headquartered in Austin with offices in San Francisco, opened its new location with plans for expansion in the Alamo City. San Antonio's talent pool of technology experts appealed to the leadership of the company.
(Read More: WP Engine Expanding to San Antonio)
In July, Storific announced the official launch of its social mobile ordering app. The Storific app, which is now available for download on all smartphones, allows customers to order and pay for food from their phones without having to wait in line upon arrival to the restaurant or pick-up for the delivery. Storific reinvented the ordering experience, taking advantage of today's mobile and social components.
Venture for America
In August, 80/20 Foundation brought Venture for America to San Antonio. Our city was selected to serve as a host city for Venture for America (VFA). After eight months of finding the best entrepreneurial-fellow fit, the VFA fellows launched their partnerships with the chosen startups, including 80/20 Foundation, Geekdom, VentureLab and James Brehm and Associates. VFA recruits America’s best and brightest recent college grads and trains them to be assets to startups and early-stage companies in emerging cities. Once they are matched with an organization, the fellow will work for two years gaining valuable entrepreneurial qualities and, eventually, mobilize the country with their own endeavors.
Entrepreneurship Legal Clinics
Geekdom, Accion Texas, 80/20 Foundation, RAM Law Firm, Texas C-BAR/Texas RioGrande Legal Aid and Cafe Commerce teamed up to provide two pro-bono legal clinics for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. This legal clinic, partially funded by the Corporate Counsel Section of the State Bar of Texas, provided a great pro bono opportunity for attorneys to volunteer their time and expertise to further the economic development of their community. Volunteer attorneys included Nathan Roach, RC Mosier, Stephen Aguilar, Andrea Morris, Jay Greathouse, Sara Dysert, and Summer Greathouse. Ten companies filed their business as a LLC at the second legal clinic. Funding from the 80/20 Foundation and Accion Texas was able to cover state filing fees for the companies.
In November, Geekdom company member WiseWear, a San Antonio-based wearable health and fitness technology start-up company, officially announced its new product, Evolve, a sensor platform that allows users to "See Inside" their bodies by providing real-time data on fitness levels. The all-in-one health tracker is being crowdsource-funded via an Indiegogo campaign. The WiseWear team created a wearable platform with multiple sensors that could collect data from several sources at once, including heart rate, pulse ox, dehydration, motion, exercise ID and the basics of step count and GPS.
HelpSocial Monitors First
In December, Geekdom company member HelpSocial announced full, public availability of an innovative, first-of-its-kind social monitoring tool and application programming interface (API). HelpSocial was the first platform created to help businesses integrate social across all their applications for real-time social customer service. The launch of the tool and API is a benefit to business owners and social media teams across the map.
Check back with the Rivard Report in 2015 and beyond to see more news about Geekdom. In the meantime, have a Geeky New Year.
*Featured/top image: Geekdom staff and members cheers to the new Geekdom co-working space in the Rand Building on opening day, April 21, 2014. Photo by Kara Gomez.